Famous Women in Photography

March 8, 2021

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we wanted to take a few moments to highlight some famous and influential female photographers that have followed their passion and paved the way for future female photographers.  

Annie Leibovitz (Born 1949) 

Annie Leibovitz is an American photographer best known for her dramatic celebrity portraits. She studied painting at the San Fransisco Art Institute (SFAI) in the hopes of one day becoming an art teacher. During her time at SFAI, Leibovitz took night classes in photography and by 1970 was a successful commercial photographer at Rolling Stone magazine. Leibovitz became the first woman to become Chief Photographer of Rolling Stone magazine, giving it a distinctive look that is still emulated today. Later in her career, Leibovitz moved on to work for Vanity Fair while also contributing to Vogue. Leibovitz became the first woman to have a solo exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. and has had her photograph collections displayed in multiple museums, including, The Art Institute of Chicago; The Museum of Modern Art in New York; Brooklyn Museum; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the National Portrait Gallery in London; and Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris; just to name a fewLeibovitz’s amazing career has inspired women around the world to follow their own photography dreams.  

Vivian Dorothy Maier (1926-2009) 

Vivian Maier’s complex life inspired the critically acclaimed documentary “Finding Vivian Maier. With her keen interest in photography, Maier moved to New York in 1951 and began to hone her craft as a street photographer – regardless of whether she knew her photos were defining an emerging genre. Maier would walk the streets of New York City snapping photos, but she kept her photography to herself. She was an intensely private character, but her passion for her craft is evident in the more than 100,000 negatives she left behind. Maier worked as a nanny by profession, and in her later years, was taken care of by the children she nannied for so long ago. Unfortunately, Maier kept her work so private it was not discovered until 2007 in a thrift auction house, when the items in her storage unit were sold off due to missed storage payments. Her hundreds of thousands of negatives illustrated the streets of New York and Chicago and have been featured in the Chicago Cultural Center. Although Maier was private about her love for photography, showcasing her work will inspire more young women to find their voice in street photography.  

Kunié Sugiura (Born 1942) 

Kunié Sugiura is a renowned Japanese photographer and multimedia artist. She received her BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1967. In the 60s Sugiura experimented with color photography and by the 70s she was experimenting with combining photography and acrylic paint. In the 80s she began producing photograms – a picture produced with photographic materials such as light sensitive paper. Photograms are not produced with a camera but with camera accessories. Sugiura focuses on light, time, and the limited lifecycle of nature. Throughout the many phases of her career, Sugiura has had expositions at the Denver Art Museum; Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography; and The Museum of Modern Art in New York. With her avant-garde style, Sugiura can inspire young women to think outside of the box and explore innovative approaches to photography.  

Hannah Reyes Morales (Born 1990) 

Hannah Reyes Morales is a stunning young photographer based in Manila. Morales’s work focuses on human survival, and the bonds that tie people together. With her exceptional talent, she has had the opportunity to work with National Geographic (a photographer’s dream) and obtain an abundance of awards and nominations, including the 2020 ICP Infinity Award for Documentary Practice and Visual Journalism, the 2019 Tim Hetherington Visionary Award, and the 2019 National Geographic Grantee, to name a few. We cannot wait to see what she accomplishes in the future and how her work will inspire others to create their own artistic and photojournalism careers. 

Gillian Wearing (Born 1963) 

Gillian Wearing is a conceptual artist from the UK. One of her most well-known works is called Signs that Say What you Want them to Say and Not Signs that Say What Someone Else Wants You To SayFor this piece, she stopped people walking by and asked them to write down what was on their mind and photograph it. This series gained her an abundance of notoriety. In 1996, Wearing won the Turner Prize for her piece 60 minutes in silence. Wearing has had her work featured at The Museum of Modern Art in New York; The Hishhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington D.C., The Tate Gallery in London; and many more. 


We hope that these influential women in photography inspire you to follow your passion! We look forward to profiling even more women in photography 


Happy International Women’s Day! 



Most Recent Posts